As part of our quest to discover great restaurants participating in Restaurant Week this month (after our lovely visit to A Voce: http://www.nycstooptalk.com/?p=1090) we next ventured to Atlantic Grill on 64th Street and Broadway, just across the street from Lincoln Center. We had very high hopes as their Restaurant Week menu looked terrific and some of us are major seafood advocates. As with most restaurants in the Lincoln Center area, Atlantic Grill had a conservative, upscale look from the outside (which often reflects on the pricing as well, exactly why Restaurant Week is such a great deal!).
As we stepped inside, the Maitre’ D, a courteous and tall gentleman, immediately sat us at our table. The decor also caught our attention immediately, as it expressed much identity crisis. The decor was modern, sleek, and stylishly offered a glimpse of local history (i.e. see below a framed photo of dancers from the School of American Ballet, which is part of Lincoln Center), but there was also a massive TV at the bar (read: trashy sports bar, at least for me), shiny wooden paneling covering the former tin ceiling (I am biased towards the 19th-Century charm of the latter), white table cloths (which would go better with a tin ceiling), and a silver sushi bar counter lit in blue like a Miami nightclub. I wasn’t sure what exactly Atlantic Grill wanted to be.
Our server Tai was friendly, and did not fail to mention the “National Tequila Day” special, a peach tequila cocktail (below). We also ordered a fresh coconut water-rum-vodka cocktail. As a seafood restaurant, they have some cold sake on their spirit menu as well.
From the Restaurant Week menu we ordered:
Summer red plum & watermelon gazpacho
Marinated salmon tacos
Spicy crab maki roll
Grilled rainbow trout
Pepper seared filet mignon
Maine lobster roll
Triple chocolate torte (I tried convincing our server that I was European and it is pronounced torté, both false)
All in all, we felt the food was mediocre. It was an average, forgettable experience. The few things I do remember was the strawberry shortcake (but it’s probably not a great thing that the whipped cream was more memorable than their fish), and my rainbow trout, because it felt over-grilled, in fact burnt. If you are looking for a special dining experience nearby Lincoln Center, we would suggest to look elsewhere.
We browsed through the long list of restaurants participating in Restaurant Week this summer, and there were so many I had been wanting to go but hadn’t been yet (or frankly wouldn’t be able to afford their regular menu)! After much debate with several other Distrikt ladies, we finally decided on the Italian restaurant, A Voce.
A Voce received one star from the MICHELIN guide this year, which is a grand feat in the culinary world. Due to its fantastic location on the third floor of Time Warner Center, overlooking the Southwest entrance of Central Park, we had sent many Distrikt guests there who were looking for a special dining experience. When we finally decided to check it out ourselves, it was thrilling.
Time Warner Center is a shopping and dining complex located on the corner of 57th Street and 8th Avenue. It’s one stop away on the A train, and two stops away on the C. It took us no more than 10 minutes from the hotel.
There! You can vaguely see a red letter on the third floor. That’s the entrance to A Voce.
We finally arrived and were seated at a lovely table overlooking the monument at the entrance of Central Park. That building to the left is Trump International Hotel & Tower (and its address is One Central Park West. Fancy).
There were many local ladies lunching. The decor was minimalist with some flair. I especially enjoyed this partial kitchen view straight ahead! I’ve been to some restaurants with a completely open kitchen, and this was a refreshing take on the concept.
Unbelievably extensive wine menu!
Our server, Jenny, came over. She was very friendly but not imposing. Difficult to achieve but great quality in a server! The floor manager, Alessandro, constantly checked on us as well to make sure our experience was superb. Service was fantastic.
As you see here, all restaurants participating in Restaurant Week that serve lunch have a $24.07 prix fix menu. (Make sure to confirm that the restaurant is serving lunch as some only serve dinner, which is a $35 menu.)
For appetizers (or “Antipasti”) we ordered:
Chilled corn soup with formaggio fresco and lemon,
Mozzarella with grilled tomato vinaigrette, mint, almonds
Our cocktails arrived along with… the most amazing complementary pre-meal bread plate! Though I know you’re not supposed to eat a lot of these things (and I don’t mean just carbs but also pre-meal breads, so you have room for your actual meal), I may or may not have eaten 5 to 7 of these.
Our appetizers disappeared as quickly as they came.
Poof! Gone in our bellies. So good!
Zucchini-filled pasta entree:
As you can see, we had less and less photos because we were truly so busy trying to savor every bite. The desserts were phenomenal. Thank you to Jenny and Alessandro for a fantastic lunch.
If you are looking for a special dining experience, this is it. It would be perfect for an anniversary, birthday, and so forth. Do take advantage of Restaurant Week and let us know if you need assistance making reservations!
Yesterday we welcomed the Gorilla Cheese Truck (outside) and People’s Pops Cart (inside, at Collage Bar & Bistro) and invited our guests to experience complimentary grilled cheese, tater tots, and boozy shaved ice!
I, Anna, recently discovered People’s Pops right by my East Village apartment and their massive block of ice reminded me of my childhood. When I was growing up in Japan and used to attend summer festivals, a typical treat sold was shaved ice and flavored syrup. I was so happy to have found People’s Pops!
The party was a great success and fun. Check out some photos we snapped last night!
We photobombed a happy couple! Ha!
…And, this is our Nesha explaining what happened. Glad they weren’t mad!
People’s Pops’ Boozy (and non-Boozy for our youngsters) Shaved Ice was a mega hit! This Pops guy courageously shaved this block of ice non-stop for 2 hours! THANK YOU!
In case you haven’t heard, NYC has been crazy for food trucks for the last few years. Naturally, we’ve come to love them too.
We recently had our Seis de Junio party. For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, that’s 6th of June. And for those of you who’re thinking, “Wait, but you just made up that holiday!” Well, maybe we did. Mexico Blvd. food truck joined us to celebrate an afternoon of tacos, guacamole and chips, and margaritas!
If this looks like a ton of fun, don’t worry: we have another summer event coming up on July 17th! Hope to see you there!
This past weekend we were lucky enough to partake in the Brooklyn Waterfront Craft and Specialty Beer Festival on the Williamsburg Waterfront. The event is put on a few times throughout the year by the Hand Crafted Tasting Company at different venues across the city. Ticket prices vary, but we upgraded to the VIP Pass for $65.00 to get early entrance by an hour and beat the rush.
So what does $65.00 get you?? The early entrance is key, the line to get in the event was a couple of blocks deep, but the VIP pass allows you to jump right to the front. We’re not sure how limited the passes are (we had no problem purchasing a week before the event,) but the extra hour of time to browse the vendors, easy access to beer tasting, and open view of the NYC skyline was well worth the extra $20.
Craft and specialty brewing is a growing trend these days, so not only did we find favorites from some of the larger brew houses (e.g. Brooklyn Brewery, Samuel Adams, Blue Moon) but the true small batch and specialty brewers really impressed. Some favorites included SMaSH Saison by BENsBREW (www.bensbrewny.com), Momus by Bruton (www.bruton.it), and the Double Black IPA from 508 Gastrobrewery (www.508nyc.com) which is located right here in Manhattan.
The Manhattanhenge – also known as the Manhattan Solstice – is when twice a year the sun fully aligns with the New York City grid. This dramatic natural phenomenon gets tons of New Yorkers off their tiny couches inside their tiny apartments and out onto the streets biannually.
This year a few of us went to check out the event on May 29th! We had read that major Manhattan streets (i.e. 14th Street, 23rd Street, 34th Street, 42nd Street, etc.) would provide the best views so from Distrikt we headed on down a few blocks to 34th Street to get a good spot. (FYI: a few blocks west is Empire State Building, Macy’s, Madison Square Garden, etc. You want to check out 34th Street when in NYC.)
Well, looks like half of the city had the same idea! People lining up with their cameras in the middle of the wide, high-traffic 34th Street was a phenomenon in itself.
The moment, 8:17PM, was approaching and spectators were growing anxious! (Also the drivers were getting more and more irritated.)
And as the clock was to hit 8:17PM…
a massive cloud covered the entire sun!!!
Oh well. It was somewhat disappointing but there’s another one in July!
Then we walked over to Barking Dog (34th Street between 3rd Avenue and Lexington Avenue), a restaurant themed on, um, dogs. The massive outdoor seating is perfect for the summer, and I spotted many dog-owners eating with their pooch. They even have a “dog bar”! How adowuffble.
The interior is warm and cozy. Imagine going on a family vacation to a remote log cabin, except all your family members and ancestors are dogs. That’s what it feels like (trust me, it’s not as weird as it sounds). They serve affordable, (oily) American fare. I would recommend this place for those who prioritize atmosphere over food (which I do – this place is so cute!). Their food is good and standard, not incredible. Come here for the fun dog decor.
This spring there are at least four productions of MacBeth alone being presented here. And of course there’s the annual Shakespeare in the Park. Last week I checked out two Shakespeare productions, both very unique and original in their own right.
First I saw Classic Stage Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I would like to preface this by saying every show I have ever seen at Classic Stage Company, an award-winning off-Broadway theater specializing in classical material, has been excellent. If you’re a lover of theater, check out Classic Stage Company while you’re in New York. I would say that it would even make you proud, those of you visiting from London!
Due to the relatively small theater and well-appointed seating arrangements (there are seats to the front and left and right of the stage), any seat is excellent. Depending on the show you can get fantastic discounts at www.BroadwayBox.com also. For example, I paid $80/ticket for front row seats, but the Broadway Box offers it for $50. Check out how close my feet are to the stage. Those chairs are part of the set, and you can see audience members sitting across from me on the other side, as I’ve described.
This particular production of Midsummer boasted a famous cast that includes Christina Ricci, Bebe Neuwirth, Taylor Mac, David Greenspan, and Anthony Heald.
The show was extremely entertaining and visually appetizing; there were at least 20 costume changes for Taylor Mac who played Puck. Mac is a Downtown-favorite in the New York performance art scene, and he definitely pulled off being a tree, a clown, and a pink elephant. I loved Greenspan’s performance. My only concern was the lead couples (which included Christina Ricci in underwear, on the floor, right in front of me, half of the play), who were physically beautiful but whose handle on the Shakespearean language was obnoxious and awkward. To quote a Bloomberg News review, “Ricci’s discrete tattoos, partly visible when she’s performing in her underwear, are more noteworthy than her stage technique or shrill delivery. Also evoking an Athenian valley girl is Halley Wegryn Gross, as her rival Helena.”
A recent performance I saw of Chekhov’s Three Sisters here with Maggie Gyllenhaal and Peter Sarsgaard was truer to the classical sentimentality and presentation. Also their recent Venus in Fur went onto Broadway this past season.
Next, I saw Tom Gualtieri’s That Play: Solo Macbeth. Guess who’s in the play? That is correct; Tom Gualtieri, solo. If you follow the countless Macbeth productions in the world, a solo MacBeth is nothing new. In fact, just this year there was comedic genius Rick Miller’s MacHomer (a marriage of Simpsons characters and MacBeth… I am incredibly sad to have missed it during its 2-day performance in New York City), and Alan Cumming‘s solo version of Macbeth begins on Broadway this summer.
I, myself, performed in a MacBeth satire called MacChin at the 2010 New York International Fringe Festival about the battle and turmoil between late-night favorites, Jay Leno (hence MacCHIN) and Connan O’Brien, so was familiar with alternative versions of MacBeth, more than the original version perhaps. In that sense, Tom Gualtieri’s Solo Macbeth was a refreshing approach; it was as classic as you would get, except he was, well, alone.
Gualtieri smoothly and skillfully transitions between 19 characters in a span of 90 minutes, without intermission.
Even though I was extremely tired the night I attended, and I had a glass of wine towards the beginning of the performance, the show absolutely kept me up and on the edge of my seat the whole 90 minutes. Gualtieri occasionally broke the fourth wall and spoke to the audience about the scene he was presenting, or his thoughts on Lady M, which provided plesant comedic relief during an otherwise tense scenes (these emotional shifts were also assisted by the lights swiftly shifting from blood-red to a warm house light; ah the magic of theater).
If you enjoy the classic production but still want to experience something a little different and perhaps “New York,” you may enjoy this production.
That Play: A Solo Macbeth is presented at Stage Left Studio (214 W 30th Street, 6th floor, between 7 & 8 Avenues) on May 14, 21, 31, June 7, and 14 at 7:30PM. Tickets are $25.
New York City abounds with international cuisines, mostly available at any time of the day or night. The following two restaurants present very different cuisines and experiences, yet they’re just about 20 minutes away from each other on the subway (which is also available 24 hours a day).
Tipsy Parson (156 Ninth Avenue between 19th and 20th Streets) in the vibrant Chelsea section of Manhattan is an adorable, neighborhood Southern food restaurant. The restaurant is surrounded by flowers and plants in front and in the back and gets a lot of natural light, so it feels as though you’re lunching in a cute cottage on the countryside even though you’re in the heart of Chelsea (which is a refreshing experience for New Yorkers)! When I visited for brunch, the menu consisted of comfort classics such as fried chicken and waffels, mac and cheese, and BBQ pulled pork, as well as revamped brunch favorites as Lemon-Cornmeal Pancakes and Flaxseed, Almond & Pumpkin Seed Granola. All the items we ordered were excellent, but I especially loved the Make-Your-Own Buttermilk Biscuits, where you get to choose your own sweet or savory toppings. We got the lemon curd; yummy! Though I’ve only been for brunch, I’ve heard great things about their dinner as well. I’d highly recommend this restaurant to anyone seeking American comfort food in a homey atmosphere.
A New York City evening is another thing. Pulqueria (11 Doyers St), a Mexican street food restaurant and bar, and Apotheke, its sister bar, stand next to each other, both owned by a brother and sister duo. Pulquria is located underneath a former Vietnamese restaurant on Doyer Street (a hidden street as it is!) in the Chinatown area of Manhattan. They specialize in pulque, which is a unique Mexican fermented agave drink. Some items we ordered were excellent, and I especially recall the tacos being very filling. The service was subpar, so I would recommend this place to those who enjoy atmosphere over service. I have a soft spot for speakeasies so this semi-hidden concept won my heart a bit. I did not get a chance to check out Apotheke bar right next door, but these two might be a perfect date spot due to its clandestine nature and romantic lighting.
Having said that, I recommend La Esquina over Pulqueria. It is a similar type of underground, semi-hidden Mexican restaurant, but in a more vibrant neighborhood of SoHo.
Each year, over a million auto-enthusiasts descend on the Jacob Javits Center in New York City for the world-famous International Auto Show. Among the attendees this year were members of the Distrikt Hotel Team!
With over a thousand cars on display, and every major manufacturer eager to direct people to their latest offerings, the event is a petrol-head’s dream! While some cars were on display in closed-off areas, such as the Bugatti Veyron with its price tag at over a million dollars, other cars were available for a closer look and even to sit inside (check out Will below!). While the Veyron held a commanding audience of people posing for photographs, these cars had a constant line next to them with people eagerly waiting for their turn to sit behind the wheel of their dream sports cars. From Porsche 911’s to the latest Civic, there was something for every taste.
If sports cars failed to excite you, there was also a large selection of SUV’s. The impressive Jeep display outside offered ‘ride along experiences’ to anyone who wanted to brave the waiting time, with experienced drivers throwing the SUV’s into seemingly impossible inclines, and bringing the car to a stop on an almost decline before the end of the experience!
Distrikt Hotel is just about a 10-minute away from the Jacob Javits Center. While you’re in New York City, take advantage of our location and check out their schedule to see if any exhibition might interest you!
The 2012 Tony Awards nominations were annouced today. Though I’m a major theater buff, I have been slacking as of late and realized I’d only seen one on the list this year (WHAT! That NEVER happens!).
While ONCE, NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET, and THE GERSHWINS’ PORGY AND BESS, with 11, 10, 10 Nominations (respectively) are leading the way, I recently checked out LEAP OF FAITH, which got 1 Nom for Best Musical (Hey, that’s still a major accomplishment).
Now, I must preface this by saying I attended their very first “preview,” meaning the period during which producers test out the show and see what scene, which song, which character, etc. work and don’t work. Following these previews the show officially opens for performances. For my performance, the Playbill included a questionaire asking these questions so producers can gauge audience reaction. Often there are no major differences between previews and performances besides minor tweaks here and there. (Unless the show is Spiderman, which went through every change possible.)
Based on the 1992 Steve Martin film, Leap of Faith stars Raúl Esparza, a Broadway favorite and veteran. (Yes ladies, he is very attractive.) Esparza is Jonas Nightingale, a charismatic con-man “faith healer,” who travels across the country holding revivals and performing “miracles.” Before the curtain opens, some of the Kansas townspeople and the ministry members (or “Angels”), characters you’ll soon meet in the show, surround the audience, inviting very much a “revival” feel.
I had mixed feelings about this show. The book (storyline) is predictable, but so is almost any Broadway musical. The music was not memorable but very fun, though I am biased because composer Alan Menken has a special heart in my place (who DIDN’T grow up on The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Beauty and the Beast, and every other Disney movie ever?).
To summarize, it is a VERY FUN, EXCITING show. If you’re looking for the quintessential, glitsy Broadway musical experience, this perfectly fits the bill! So do Mamma Mia! and Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (though Priscilla maybe not if you feel uncomfortable with dozens of drag queens in sequins).
If you want something less exuberant and neon costumes, and more intimate or intense (a la Phantom of the Opera), this may not be for you.
Always ask the front desk for suggestions if you ever need help deciding! Stay tuned for more theater reviews.
Beautiful ceiling at the St. James Theatre.
The box seats are converted into an orchestra pit (which usually is right underneath the stage) and stairs for actors to easily travel from the second floor to the stage. Cool!
Characters from the show start talking to you while you wait for the curtain to open… (This guy’s funny)